Ever since the news about Harvey Weinstein surfaced last week, I’ve had a giant knot in my stomach. There’s long been rumors about his inappropriateness with women, but after multiple stories from smart, intelligent, successful, beautiful women came to light it was hard to deny them any longer. And the stories are awful. A man in power using that power to manipulate and scare women into satisfying his desires. Treating them not like equals or even individuals, but like playthings. It makes my skin crawl.
And he is only one man. This happens all over Hollywood all the time.
It’s happened to me multiple times and with multiple men.
And while for every horrible encounter I’ve had, I’ve also had lovely male co-workers and respectful bosses, the fact that it happens at all is upsetting.
I’ve never talked about my experiences— not publicly, at least. And even writing this, my hands are shaking and I feel terrified. When you suffer from a history of abuse, you often second-guess your interactions and that makes these situations even scarier. But, after all those incredibly brave women came forward to tell their stories, I know I can’t stay silent any longer.
At one of my early jobs, a producer would often visit our show. He was well known, handsome, and charismatic. I was twenty-one. He’d often ask me to get him late night meals, even though that wasn’t entirely my job. I later realized it was his excuse to give us alone time together, late at night. One of those nights I asked him about the assistant job opening up at his office. He said the position was mine if I gave him a blow job, that he “bet would be great.” I laughed it off because I thought it was a joke. He immediately said it was. Who knows if it was or wasn’t. We were alone in a room together, he was twenty years older than me and insinuated I could have a job in exchange for sex. It wasn’t very funny. Fortunately the show ended a week later, as did my interactions with him. That was just the beginning.
A few years later, I was working on another show with another powerful producer who had a reputation. I was extra cautious around him, but would still find myself caught in conversations with him that were extremely inappropriate (such as musing about what a passing woman’s body parts looked like under her clothes and if I had any thoughts on the subject). One day, I was buttering some toast in the kitchen and leaning against a counter, when I felt his hand on my ass. I looked at him, he smiled, and walked past. I told my boss at the time who said he would talk to him. He of course denied any wrongdoing and said it was “probably just an accident.” I didn’t want to be around him and no one wanted to do anything more, so the solution was I didn’t have to go into the office any longer. It made me feel so powerless and weak. And it wasn’t a great fucking solution for anybody.
These are just two examples. I’ve had co-workers tell me how they imagined having sex with me. When I was looking for a job, someone told me he would pay me to just “hang out in his office and see what happens.” I know people who have gotten opportunities in their careers because of giving into advances. I’ve had potential bosses talk down to me in interviews and tell me they couldn’t hire me because I was “too cute” and would be “a distraction.” And my stories are relatively mild compared to what else is out there. The point is, this happens all the time, and not just in Hollywood, but everywhere. I’m glad Harvey Weinstein is getting the comeuppance he deserves. But I’m also glad that his downfall is leading to bigger discussions and more women coming forward. Maybe the cycle will finally stop. Maybe men will be forced to think twice before saying something inappropriate or doing something even more inappropriate. Because no one deserves to feel threatened or unsafe, especially in the workplace— even if that workplace is in Hollywood.